Domestic Violence Prosecutions are Collateral Damage in ICE Courthouse Raids

National Public Radio reports today that four women have dropped domestic violence charges against their alleged abusers out of fear that they would be deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials if they appeared in court.

Recently, undocumented immigrants appearing in court for reasons unrelated to their immigration status have been apprehended by ICE officers while on court premises. California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye sharply rebuked the U.S. Attorney General’s office and the Department of Homeland Security last Friday for sanctioning the raids, saying, “Courthouses should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country’s immigration laws.”

As the NPR article demonstrates, the threat of arrest by ICE deters victims of violent crime from seeking the assistance of law enforcement. The consequences of this chilling effect are dire: Victims who feel they are unable to contact law enforcement may be subjected to further violence and abuse, and witnesses of other types of criminal activity may be unwilling to assist law enforcement in investigating and punishing crime. Simply put, ICE’s courthouse-steps arrests make it riskier for victims of domestic violence to attempt to escape abusive situations, and more difficult for law enforcement officers to do their job.


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